Sausage Poison

In the early nineteenth century, authorities in the Kingdom of Wurttemberg in Stuttgart, became concerned at the increase in fatal food poisoning cases following a decline in hygiene standards after the devastation caused by the Napoleonic War.

Many health officials examined this issue and determined the cause to be the consumption of badly prepared sausages.  Justinus Kerner, a poet and medical officer of a small town, conducted some experiments and produced a paper titled “New observations on the lethal poisoning occurring so frequently in Wurttemberg through the consumption of smoked sausages”. 

He noted that:

The tear fluid disappears, the gullet becomes a dead and motionless tube; in all mucous cavities of the human machine the secretion of the normal mucus stands still, from the biggest, the stomach, towards the tear canal and the excretory ducts of the lingual glands.
No saliva is secreted. No drop of wetness is felt in the mouth, no tear is secreted anymore. No ear wax appears in the auditory canal, also signs of drying out of the Eustachian tube become apparent. No mucus is secreted in the nose; no more sperma is
secreted, the testicles decrease. Urination can only be performed by standing and with difficulty. Extreme drying out of the palms, the soles and the eyelids occurs.

Historical aspects of botulinum toxin Justinus Kerner (1786–1862) and the “sausage poison” (PDF Download Available).

Available from: [accessed Apr 13, 2017].

He noted that this “sausage poison” could have therapeutic benefits for various ailments, including psychiatric conditions.

In 1870, the German physician Muller named the poison botulism (from the Latin botulus, meaning sausage).

In 1895, following an outbreak at a funeral, the micro-biologist Emile-Pierre van Ermengem isolated the bacteria clostridium botulinum as the source of the poison.

Throughout the twentieth century, this botulinum toxin continued to be a public health hazard and was (and still is) thoroughly researched.

In the early 1990s, Canadian husband and wife ophthalmologist and dermatologist physicians, developed the technique, first used by a plastic surgeon from Sacramento, California, Richard Clark, to reduce the frown lines between the eyebrows, starting the phenomenally popular cosmetic use of Botox.

Botulinum toxin injections are now the most common cosmetic operations with an estimated market of around $3bn per year.

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